Coach drivers blast horns in central London

 
Staff from Hampshire-based coach operator Angela Holidays protest in Parliament Square

 
Hundreds of coaches passed slowly, and noisily, through central London yesterday for the Honk for Hope UK protest, designed to draw attention to the financial crisis the industry faces.

Over 500 coaches met at five assembly points around the capital before forming a convoy to enter central London. Passing along the north bank of the Thames via Parliament Square, the vehicles continues to the Tower of London before returning via the same route.

Organisers say the route had been decided upon in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and “was deemed the best not only for disruption but for maximum exposure.”

However, it was reported the police yesterday issued a warning to the organisers after complaints about the noise were made by the Palace of Westminster.

Operators say they feel let down by the government and its lack of support for an industry that employs over 42,000 people in the UK and supports many areas of the UK economy.

During the peak summer season, many vehicles haven’t turned a wheel with staff furloughed as a result of the pandemic. It means that many operators are now seriously struggling financially.

Ministers met representatives from the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK and coach operators last week, but rejected proposals for assistance.

 

 
Jenna Rush from North East Coach Travel, who organised the protest, said she was concerned her company would not be able to meet its financial commitments .

“I have got a coach now where I still owe £160,000 finance, but because of Covid the coach has depreciated to around £100,000,” she told The Evening Standard.

“So if that (loan) company does not give me any help, and I can’t pay, they will repossess and take it away. But there will still be a shortfall of £60,000.

“Because I have a personal guarantee, they will come to me and possibly take my home. Every operator is in this position, it’s not just the risk of losing the business, it’s the risk of losing everything.”

 
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